Delta Roots Music Festival

April 22, 2023


Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich, Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Johnson, Conway Twitty, and Levon Helm are all icons whose clarion call defined the Delta as the source of the world’s best loved music. The second and third generation of legacies and would-be superstars are the cornerstone of the new age carrying the torch of yesterday’s musical giants and the inspiration for tomorrow’s theme songs.

Come home to where the myths are made. Today’s concerts are tomorrow’s memories. Enjoy a full day of music firmly planted in the soil of the Arkansas Delta promising a wang dang doodle of a day on Saturday, April 22nd at the third annual Delta Roots Festival. Recharge your batteries and celebrate a new beginning where today’s concerts create tomorrow’s memories.

Paul Thorn, perennial 13-year favorite at the south’s premiere blues festival, King Biscuit, returns to the hallowed ground of that festival’s mainstage to headline a 11-hour extravaganza that firmly cements the Delta’s reputation as center stage of the sounds that shake, soothe and cement leadership of the world’s soundstage from the banks of the mighty Mississippi in Helena, Arkansas.

Paul Thorn is the southern Everyman who exploded on the scene 13 years ago with “Pimps and Preachers.” His sound blends country, soul, blues, and Americana as seen through the eyes of a preacher’s son, a former boxer, a humorist, and entertainer who mesmerizes audiences around the world. He opened the stage for B. B. King at King Biscuit, in 2010, and has come back to the south’s premier blues festival every year since.

Thrill to the funky harmonies of The Divas on Fire, five women who each front bands of their own stoked by the blues, soul and R&B embers of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Al Green, Aretha Franklin and Isaac Hayes. Vocalist and songwriter Lectric Liz Lottman’s career began hanging out with the hard rock band Black Oak Arkansas and recording at the Sun Studios with members of Jerry Lee Lewis’ band. She’s played jazz and blues clubs around the world and is the music coordinator for the Pinetop Perkins Foundation’s annual Homecoming in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Other divas include Dawn Cate, daughter of Arkansas music legend, guitarist Earl Cate of the Cate Brothers Band; Ocie Fisher, Northwest Arkansas Music Awards Hall of Fame’s four-time Female Vocalist of the Year; Rachel Fields named The Nashville Blues Society’s First Lady of the Gospel Blues; and Tori Rudolph whose been singing in church since she was four and joined the Divas at 17.

Others on the bill include:

The Oxford AllStars. a kick-ass party band that plays Motown, blues, old school, R&B, and country.

Earl & Them led by Earl Cate of the Cate Brothers, best known around the world for their 1976 Top 40 hit “Union Man” that spent 20 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.

Nashville country soul artist Calvin Lee who grew up on his family’s farm in Earle, Arkansas and picked up singing from listening to the workers on the farm and at church.

John Mohead whose played gigs with everyone from Bob Dylan to David Allan Coe, The Allman Brothers to The North Mississippi Allstars and Dave Matthews He was raised on the blues and R & B of The Soulman Early Wright on WROX and Sonny Payne at King Biscuit Time on KFFA. He’s recorded seven full length CDs and has also produced three CDs for other artists.

CW Gatlin a rockabilly Hall of Fame guitarist who worked with Robert Nighthawk, Houston Stackhouse, Frank Frost and Sam Carr. His goal? “Keep on rockin.’”

The Billy Jeter Band led by a storyteller whose songs flow like the Mississippi River during the rainy season. The group releases their fifth album in March with influences ranging from Mississippi Delta blues and rock, Ozark folk, Colorado bluegrass and a touch of Grateful Dead campfire type songs.

Fonky Donkey returns for another roots and blues excursion through the heartland. Their sound offers listeners the best from Dylan to the Delta, Helena to the Hill Country, Memphis to New Orleans, and all points between.

Add to the mix the Phillips County Organization’s Wild Hog Cheerleaders, The Delta Roots Bicycle Ride to Storm Creek, Young at Heart Harmonica Lessons, Lil’ Sprouts Kids’ Area, Fly a Kite on the Mississippi River Levee Bank, and Wild Thang & Team Ghostriders Cowboy Monkey Rodeo and you have a day to remember.

Festival chairman Munnie Jordan said, “Come join us as we celebrate all genres of music blues, country, gospel, rockabilly, rock-n-roll, and bluegrass stemming from our Delta Roots.” Other event details will be announced in the coming weeks, so people are encouraged to check Eventbrite and Facebook, email operations@ or call 870-572-5223.